In Arthur Miller's All My Sons, most of the characters have different motives for hiding the truth from themselves and others. In the following text the character's motives for doing so is disclosed.
The character of Joe Keller in Miller's All My Sons , has many reasons for not telling the truth about letting cracked engine heads out of his factory. He believes that his family is the most important thing that he has. He believes providing for his family supercedes all other things. "Nothing is bigger!" (425) Joe is the most aware of the crime, because he himself commits the crime. Joe lies about his actions for numerous reasons. He lies in court to protect himself from punishment. He lies because he believes he is protecting his family. He does not want his family to hate him. He does not want to be accountable for all the aviator deaths.
Joe thinks money is one of the most important things in life. He thinks he needs money to be happy and make his family happy. His assumption is wrong. This whole incident makes it very hard on his family. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it would have been better if he would have told the truth. He instead uses his weaker partner as a scapegoat. His wife helps him cover up the truth also.
Kate Keller also has a family to protect. She needs to protect the family name. If Kate said her husband is guilty, then she would have said that her husband killed one of her sons: "God does not let a son be killed by his father." Kate is not strong enough to admit her husband is guilty and to take the consequences of admitting it. She does not want anyone else to admit it either. She does not want to believe her own husband killed one of her own sons. She lies for Joe in court saying that he was sick the day the defective parts were shipped. She slips up when talking to George about this day. "He hasn't been laid up in fifteen yearsÃ¢ÂÂ¦" (415) She then lies about it saying Joe has been sick to George.
Steve tried to tell everyone the truth, but nobody listened to him. He said there was a phone call between him and Joe, but Joe denied it after they were caught. Steve reported the defective parts to Joe, but when Joe told him to weld the cracks he did so. He kept silent at this time and did not report this to the government. He helped cover up the mistake in the process to the government instead of blowing the whistle. He was just as responsible as Joe, because he also knew about the defects and did not take action. Steve did not come out with the truth until after he was caught. He did this because he is a character who is easily manipulated. He is too afraid of Joe to turn Joe and himself in from the start.
Ann withheld a lot of information from everyone for various reasons. She never tells anyone about it until she has to. She had known Larry committed suicide and why. She did not want to show this letter to Kate because she does not want to cause any more harm or damage. She loves Chris, and she does not want to do anything that will jeopardize their relationship. Ann has to show it to Kate so she can marry Chris, because Kate believes strongly that Ann is Larry's girl. Kate will not let go unless this key piece of evidence is made known. Ann only wants to be with Chris. Ann believes her father is also guilty, so she does not go to visit him at all in jail.
The neighbors all believe or assume Joe is guilty. Sue Bayless even says, "I resent living next door to the Holy Family. It makes me look like a bum, you understand?" (396) They never say anything to the Keller's because they do not want to make enemies or come on the bad side of the Kellers. The Kellers had high social standing. Being friends with them is very important;. it is the thing to do in the neighborhood. The Keller household is the main place for everyone in the neighborhood to visit and to socialize. The neighbors played cards with Joe even though they knew he was guilty of t he charged crimes. Even his next-door neighbors knew he did it and they pretended like the cat was never let out of the bag.
Sue Bayles was not as shy to express her feelings on the subject. She tells Ann, "Who is he to ruin a man's life? Everybody knows Joe pulled a fast one to get out of jail." She does not even like the Kellers. She hates having to pretending to be nice to them. She wants Chris to move far away from them. She does not like the influence he has over her husband. She goes along with the act like the neighbors because it seems the thing to do. Her husband acted in a similar way.
Dr. Jim Bayles is well aware about what Joe Keller did. He tells Kate, "Don't be afraid, Kate, I know. I've always known. It occurred to me a long time ago." He keeps up the lie around Chris because he believes that Chris cannot handle the truth. He never mentioned it because he really doesn't care about what the Keller's did. He likes them and wants to be their friends regardless. He enjoys living next door to them unlike his wife, and would not want to lose his favorite company.
Larry did not know the truth, but after reading the papers he assumed that both fathers were guilty. Larry hated his father for what he had done. He was in the war and gained a new sense as a loyal soldier. He did not see any other way than his own death by means of suicide. He took his own life so he did not have to live with the lie. Unlike his brother Chris, he was not naÃÂ¯ve.
For most of the play, Chris is the only character who really does not think his father had anything to do with the defective parts. George tries to convince him over and over that his father is guilty. He is unwilling to accept this information from George. He simply refuses to believe that his father could murder those aviators. Chris also, as his brother, had a strong bond with the soldiers. He knew what war was really about and how important every little detail is. He could not believe the idea that his father would be a man to break trust. Throughout the play most of the characters want to protect Chris from knowing the truth. They do not believe that he could have handled knowing it. Finally, after his father tells him the truth, he comes to accept it. He wants his father to accept responsibility for his actions. He understands that there are bigger things than family.
Throughout the play many characters live a lie. They have different reasons, but the main reason is to protect themselves or loved ones from being hurt. It is easier for them to pretend something did not happen instead of dealing with it and facing the consequences. It just seems like the "right" thing to do at the time. Joe never deals with the consequences after he is discovered. He takes the easy way out and kills himself.